The BBC just did an article on rising illiteracy in China, entitled, Work shift lifts China illiteracy. According to the article, the main cause of China’s rising illiteracy rate is farmers’ children “leaving school early in to find work.”
A spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Education said another factor contributing to increasing illiteracy was that local governments had shut down their departments tasked with confronting illiteracy because previous literacy campaigns had been so successful.
China defines literacy as being able to read and write 1,500 Chinese characters. A reader who emailed me with this article is skeptical 1,500 characters constitutes literacy. Is this number too low for defining China literacy?
Just by way of comparison, the CIA Factbook lists the following literacy rates for the four BRIC countries:
- Brazil — 86.4%
- Russia — 99.7%
- India — 59.5%
- China — 90.9%